Whether you believe in evolution or creationism, one fact remains: human beings were designed to move from the ground up. In the health club/nautilus culture, machines were designed with the intention of working every major muscle group in an isolated way with the theory that fitness is achieved by the collective summation of the parts of the body. Functional training takes an op-positional stance of the body acting as a whole and disregarding the strength of a single muscle group over others.
The invention of these machines has led to a host of exercises where the feet are no longer in contact with the ground (ie. leg extensions and leg curls). Excessive use of these machines creates strength where the focus of that strength is not at the point of contact with the ground, but at a point around the ankle. This creates unnatural or unbalanced torque on the knee. Exercises of this type are called “open chain” because the direction of force is not at the farthest point of the lever arm (ie. hand or foot). ”Closed chain” exercises are by definition the opposite, and maintain the foot in contact with the ground. Squats, lunges and even leg curls on a stability or medicine ball are all examples of closed chain exercises.
Dominick Walsh is a blogger for Performance Nutrition and TMRzoo.com and covers all men’s health topics and exercise issues including protein powders, diets, weight loss, weight lifting supplements, fat burners and supplement reviews. Dominick’s columns cover everything you need to know about your pre, during and post workout nutrition.